One of the biggest draws to studying abroad in Europe can be how accessible it is to travel to other countries.
Here are some tips for saving money, staying healthy, and getting the most out of your weekend trips.
Make a budget and figure out what you can afford to spend on each trip, and figure out what comforts you can sacrifice in the country you’re staying in. For me, that means not buying coffee or ice cream every day and only eating what my host mom gives me (which is plenty and so so good). That can also mean buying fewer clothes, drinks, food, or whatever tends to leak money out of your pocket. Give yourself a limit, especially if you want travel to be a top priority while you study abroad.
2. Limit your purchases.
You can also limit the souvenirs you buy if you want to save money. Spending money on experiences, for me, is more rewarding than buying lots of things to take home, but this is just personal preference!
3. Do housing and transportation research early.
Check into websites like BlaBlaCar, GoEuro, Rome2rio, and Airbnb for transportation and housing; they’re super affordable. Also use public transportation or walk where you can. Walking is a great way to learn and explore the city.
4. Don’t overpack.
Pack as light as you can. You can always buy something you might need at your destination, but having too much can weigh you down and make traveling complicated. Plus, it’s kind of nice to go without lots of stuff and live with less!
5. Get plenty of sleep if you can.
Being exhausted can make it harder to enjoy your time and can make you more prone to being homesick, or worse, actually getting sick. Also, if you know you tend to get grumpy when you’re tired, don’t let a lack of sleep keep you from enjoying your time. The same goes for being hungry. If you know you tend to get “hangry,” keep some snacks with you so your emotions don’t get in the way of your trip. You only have a short amount of time, so you want to set yourself up for success!
6. Drink all of the water.
Sometimes in Europe you have to pay for bathrooms. Sometimes water is more expensive than other types of beverages. Still, drink the water. I promise it is worth it. Water helps clear out new bacteria you might be exposed to and keeps you healthy. Not drinking it can lead to infections, dehydration, headaches, and can make it harder to enjoy where you are. Trust me, it’s worth it.
7. Bring the right shoes.
Having something comfortable while you’re walking is crucial. You also want to make sure they’re not going to break while you’re out walking, so if you have to choose, pick comfort and quality over style.
8. Keep perspective.
Remember that you’re in charge of your attitude. If things go wrong, take it as a part of the experience and deal with it as it comes. Mainly, don’t let disappointments or things that don’t go according to plan ruin your trip.
9. Find a balance.
Research the things you want to see, but also be open to exploring and doing things in the moment. There’s a lot you won’t know about a place until you’re there, and that’s perfectly fine.
10. Travel by yourself at least once.
It’s a great experience and can help you learn a lot about the world and yourself. It can also help you become more independent. For me, weekend trips helped me appreciate my study abroad country even more. Whatever you do, just get out there and see the world.
This post was contributed by Hayley Pugh, who is spending her fall semester studying abroad with AIFS in Salamanca, Spain.